Russia maintained their 100 per cent record in Pool B on Friday when they overcame Germany in four sets in the FIVB Volleyball World Championship for Women in Sapporo.
It was billed as the battle of Italian coaches with Russia's Giovanni Caprara taking on Germany's Giovanni Guidetti, with the former having dominated his compatriot during their time in the Italian domestic league.
Caprara maintained his superiority over Guidetti as Russia dug deep to turn back a determined effort from the Germans to win 25-22, 25-21, 17-25, 25-22. Germany fell to 2-1 after their first loss of the tournament.
Russia continued where they left off from their victory over Azerbaijan with their three giant blockers Ekatarina Gamova, Yulia Merkulova and Elena Godina consistently thwarting the Germans attacks.
They cruised to an 18-13 lead in the first set and then extended it to 20-15, never allowing the Germans to get within striking distance.
With Maria Borodakova and Lioubov Shashkova playing fine support roles, Russia withstood a brief German fightback take the set 25-22.
It was a similar story in the second set as the Russian front line put up a wall of hands and arms against the Germans. The Germans lost attacker Atika Bouagaa during the match with what appeared to be an ankle injury.
Though second best in this set, Germany were still able to steal points at crucial moments to keep the Russians on their toes.
Indeed, the confidence they gained from the first two sets proved to be a crucial factor in the third. After two sets of Russian dominance, the Germans started to come into their own.
Guidetti, who knows the wiles of his opposite number Caprara through years of opposing him, saw his leading players Angelina Grun, Margareta Kozuch and Birgit Thumm take over and neutralise Russia's attack.
Germany completely turned the tables, marginalising the Russians as they stormed to a 25-17 third-set win.
Russia hit back in the fourth set, carving out a 15-10 lead before allowing Germany to fight their way to 16-16.
With Shashkova in great form on the left, the Russians edged ahead again 22-19.
But inspired by Grun, the Germans fought back yet again, tying it at 23-23.
Russia were not to be denied, though, as a great block by Godina and searing serve by Merkulova eventually gave them victory.